The Importance of Total Abstinence for Recovering Addicts

Accepting that alcohol has become a problem in your life is never easy. Admitting that you have crossed the line from moderate drinking to problem drinking is something that very few people want to do and is the reason many alcoholics fail to get help. They continue to drink despite it causing negative consequences in their lives because they cannot accept that they are ‘alcoholics’. In their mind, the term alcoholic refers to someone who staggers around all day drinking vodka or whisky. So how can they be considered an alcoholic just because they like to have a couple of glasses of wine every night?

The reality is that alcoholics are people for whom alcohol is a problem. The type of alcohol they drink and the amount is irrelevant. It is the fact that they have become dependent on it and that they cannot quit even if they want to. An alcoholic is someone who has no control over his or her drinking and for whom drinking is causing adverse problems.

Controlled Drinking
Once a person with alcohol addiction gets help, he or she will need to abstain from drinking for the rest of his or her life. Many alcoholics wrongly believe, however, that they can have ‘just one’ drink. They think that they can easily have one drink and stop, but this is rarely the case.

While some alcoholics do practice controlled drinking, most of them will end up back where they started. Having just one drink and stopping is something that they may be able to control for a particular period of time, but the reality is that they rarely stay on this path. If they manage to stick to one drink for a while, they will convince themselves that they never really had a drinking problem in the first place. They will then start having more than one drink and, before long, they are back where they started, needing to detox again before beginning yet another programme of rehabilitation.

A Different Drug?
Another issue for recovering addicts is that they believe they can swap one drug for another. For example, many recovering prescription drug addicts believe that it will be okay for them to drink alcohol because their problem was painkillers.

It is important to remember that addiction is in the person and not in the drug of choice. Many people with drug addictions have believed that they would be fine having a drink after recovery, but most of them end up back taking the pills or drugs again. Nevertheless, this time, they have an added problem – an alcohol addiction.

The same can be said for the alcoholic who thinks that taking a few mood-altering pills will be okay. The truth is that addiction is addiction, and unfortunately for the addicted person, any mood-altering substances are dangerous. This is the reason abstinence is so important for recovering addicts.

Worrying About Relapse
Total abstinence is necessary for those who want to live a clean and healthy life. It is rarely possible for a recovering addict to be able to control drinking or drug-taking, and this can lead to a relapse. If you think you can take the odd pill or have one drink, then you are not in the right place at that moment and should speak to your sponsor. You need to be constantly vigilant to the threat of relapse, and to think you can control substances such as alcohol or drugs is one way of sabotaging your sobriety.

Testing the theory is dangerous and no matter how in control you think you are initially, there will come a time when you lose control and find yourself becoming reliant on a chemical substance again. If you are worried about a relapse, then it is just not worth the risk.

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